Fantasmic is back at Disneyland, bringing with it the excitement and joy that makes it one of the best nighttime spectaculars around. As the beloved show will be around daily for now, the anticipation for opening week was high! We weren’t there for opening night due to blockout dates but were a couple of days later. This post will cover that experience and offer some other thoughts about seeing the show and Disneyland.
Blockout dates for our Disneyland Magic Key are pretty brutal (or ever present) in the summer so when the return date for Fantasmic was announced I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see the show until August. Knowing that Fantasmic is often times a weekend only event, I thought my chance was gone. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the show was running every day so I got park reservations for as close to the opening as I could, the Tuesday after a Saturday debut.
Even with it being a weekday, the park was still crowded when we arrived in the late afternoon. That’s par for the course these days. Part of the reason was because of Grad Nights. While they’ve been at DCA this year, many of those celebrating come into Disneyland before the event begins. The other reason is simply the pent up demand for travel.
I don’t think that demand is hitting just Disneyland. People want to get out and experience things right now, which makes sense. It felt like two years was lost in our lives so going places we couldn’t is as intriguing as ever. I don’t know when that demand will stop but I expect it to hit a fever pitch this summer. And while this blog exists to help people try and get the most out of their Disney vacation, meaning I don’t usually recommend coming during the busiest season, I’d encourage people to go somewhere. Enjoy the world and people!
Anyway, we had a plan to ride a few things but the lines were fairly long so we walked back to Galaxy’s Edge and enjoyed a flight on the Millennium Falcon via the single-rider line. Turns out that attraction also does a double-rider line. If you just go up the single-rider entrance, a Cast Member will ask if you want to go alone or with a person that came with you. It’s a convenient way to skip the line and still ride with someone, although you’re likely to be stuck in the engineer seats.
We finished our loop around the left side of the park, got some dinner at Rancho del Zocalo and started our wait for Fantasmic about 2 hours before the first show at 9. I’ve already detailed our strategy for the show. The ‘too long; didn’t read’ version is to see the later show because it has more prime seating for standby. We did try to get a walk up spot at one of the dining packages for that day but to no avail.
Waiting for Fantasmic along the river is part of the fun though. Of course, it’s more enjoyable while sitting. Either way, the conversations you hear, or jump in, are interesting and show off the diverse crowd Disneyland brings in. Slowly, the anticipation builds until Mickey pops up across the river and the show rolls.
While I love fireworks and parades have grown on me over the years, Fantasmic feels distinctly Disneyland to me even though it is shown in other parks around the world. The show feels organic, as the theater is built in to the park’s infrastructure. It’s a rite of passage and comforting to those that have seen it many times.
I’m a fairly emotional person but made it through the first show without welling up… Almost. Mickey shooting sparks out of his fingers was as cool as ever, the Pirates scene is still mind blowing, the Tangled float was beautiful. You know what got me though? Those darn Toy Story characters on the back of the Mark Twain Riverboat.
I’m not a huge Toy Story fan, it’s good and everything but I like other Pixar films far more. But the Mark Twain, captained by Steamboat Mickey, turned the corner to where the back faced us and there was Jesse, Woody, Buzz and a toy soldier. They were there, just like I saw them in 2020 weeks before the world shut down, as excited as ever.
There’s an episode of Lost (called The Constant), sorry for the dated reference and fuzzy details, where one of the main characters is dying due to experiencing time travel. The way they save his life is by finding something in his life that remained constant throughout these different paths and experiences. For him, it was a person.
There’s something powerful about things remaining constant. I don’t think it’s a generalization to say that the most powerful form of this is people in your life being constant. But even something as small as your favorite ice cream shop on the street you grew up still being open or your favorite professional athlete sticking with your team can have a lasting impression. I saw those Toy Story characters waving from the boat and a rush of comfort and memory flooded me.
We stuck around for the second showing that night, with a much better view than the first show. I waved at King Louie and marveled at just how cool Sorcerer Mickey is. We all oohed and aahed at the dragon before cheering on the hero. Something that was missing came back and, as cheesy as the subject might be, there’s hope in that.
The rest of the night was spent on Haunted Mansion, Buzz and the very fun overlay that is Hyperspace Mountain. We’ve seen Fantasmic again since that night and it feels natural. There’s even things that aren’t working, just like usual. Sometimes the dragon won’t pop up, sometimes the river doesn’t catch fire, sometimes it’s something else; it’s like it never left! But gathering around the river and seeing one of the best shows Imagineers have ever created is the best Disneyland has to offer, among a museum of other treasures. A constant when so much has changed.
Have you enjoyed Fantasmic since it returned? Let us know your experience, along with any other questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!